The idea of traveling solo can be nerve-wrecking and exciting all at the same time, but that just means you should go for it, here I’ll tell you why.
Traveling alone will be daunting, but the most liberating, life changing experience you ever go through, and I definitely recommend you try it at least once. Will it be easy? Not at first, but will it be worth it? HELL YES. Any form of wandering around this beautiful planet of ours can bring so much improvement to the lives of those who have restless feet like I do.
For me, my destination was BALI. In less then 2 months I was back in this beautiful island – Cos if I’m being honest, five days nor one week isn’t enough to get to know any country. I recommend to everyone I meet to stay at least a month or two if you can. It’s a decent amount of time to consider yourself a traveler and not as a tourist. It’s enough time for those strangers to become your friends, to get lost and discover places you didn’t expect and to fall in love with the food and culture.
If you’re at the edge of your seat planning a solo trip for the first time, here’s what you can expect that I’ve picked up a long the way that can convince you to go for it. Remember, education doesn’t necessarily mean being in four walls and expensive.
YOU'LL LEARN TO BE COMFORTABLE BEING ON YOUR OWN.
Easier said then done, but you’ll gradually learn to love it and actually be okay with it. You’ll be forced to handle situations on your own and learn that even if you’re in a sh*thole at the very moment – at the end of the day you’ll eventually figure it out, one way or another. Melt downs are mandatory and they catapult you in your new environment.
You’ll learn how to navigate your place in the world, to embrace the ever changing call of the wild and great unknown. And the best part is realizing that no matter where you go, what you do, you won’t be going home the same.
For my one month stay in Bali, I was advised by my sister who traveled there for two months, that getting around would be easier if I rented a scooter – so I did. But mind you, I only learned how to ride a couple days before my flight, a little dare devil I know.
I fell off twice and earned battle scars but honestly, I knew it was bound to happen at some point, I was just waiting for it. So the first fall was on my second day in Canggu when I decided to drive home from Old Man’s (a night bar) at 1am, since my friend stayed behind. I was doing a good job, or so I thought, till I panicked when I found myself in an inclined parking situation - accelerated too quickly and crashed my bike.
My ass, my phone and my dignity all together flew in the air and crashed on the floor. The bike fell on me and I had some minor bleeding. On top of that, I spent 20 minutes opening the wrong villa. So imagine, dead tired, bleeding, alone and scared as f*ck in a foreign country. I was on the verge of breaking down and I actually did, full on. My initial reaction was to doubt myself. I was afraid of going out there again and wanted to go just home and quit – Let me tell you now, that’s normal. Cos the next couple of days after that, I learned to park my scooter, go out without needing Google maps and actually be confident driving around.
Sometimes the universe has a way of reminding you that you don’t always need to be in control, but instead, always trust that things will work out.
IT'S A LOT EASIER TO MAKE FRIENDS THAN YOU THINK
The friends I met in Bali were genuinely some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. It’s those times where you find yourself not planning anything and end up having a full day and by full, either your brunchin’, chillin’ by the hostel, baskin’ by the pool, nappin’ in between, hittin’ the beach to surf, watchin’ the sunset and grubbin’ somewhere good for dinner without even needing to plan about it – you just have the intuition where your friends would be at that certain time of the day where they’ll be. #StalkerInstincts lol. Kidding aside, developing a routine that works for you and having somewhat of a family in the hostel are the best parts of traveling solo.
But whether you’re in the beach, café or even just ordering a drink by the bar – you’ll always have those small talks that starts with
‘Where are you from?’
‘How long are you here for?’
‘Where have you been?’
‘Where are you going next?’
From the almost one month I’ve stayed in Bali, these are the cycle of questions that you will encounter almost everyday – You might even catch yourself conversing with someone for a while and not even knowing their name -- Especially if you stay in a hostel, which by the way I can’t emphasize any more that this is the best way to socialize and actually meet people on the same wave length as you – everyone is just trying to figure themselves out.
For me, I stayed in the best hostel ever – The Hide Hostel (which I booked in Hostelworld App) Where I found myself meeting the most amazing people in all parts of the world and actually being my consistent this entire trip without even planning it. I would advise not to get attached to your new lifestyle and friends, but it’s almost inevitable.
The best thing to do is keep in mind that everyone in Bali is passing through and that this island is a haven for nomads such as myself, so enjoy it while you can and live in the moment – take many photos, as this will be your return ticket.
YOU GET THE SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX YOU DIDN'T THINK YOU NEEDED.
As a blogger, my job insists on me being online almost 24/7 and pushing an online presence and like any other jobs no matter how much you love it – it comes to a point where it gets exhausting, real life suddenly takes a back seat as you struggle to keep your engagement. Yes, I’ve reached that extent.
Social media can be a source of negativity and insecurity that can eat you alive – you will find yourself feeding on other people’s success like a parasite and comparing your lives with others’ when in fact you should be focusing on your own growth.
Traveling alone forces you to be offline, because you get too caught up figuring everything out and busy staying alive, lol, but seriously, you’ll catch yourself living the life in front of you and loving how beautiful it is – you’ll actually forget about your phone for a just a little bit, savor those little moments cause when you look back, they aren’t little anymore.
To put it short – having a social media detox has probably been the best decision I’ve made for myself, my life and the path I want to be going in. I found myself rediscovering the joy of being alive without the pressure to conform. Not urging to consistently update my social media status and actually managing my time effectively in my own phase. I caught myself doing the things I didn’t even know I like and making the most out of it – Actually see and take in the world around me and make every minute of it meaningful, a real engagement with real people.
Remember, you need to find that balance where you get to live in the moment and still document your travel. The answer? Not having to post real time and post when its most convenient for you.
YOU BECOME MORE RESPONSIBLE – NO ONE'S GOING TO SAVE YOUR ASS BUT YOURSELF! #TOUGHLOVE
You will need to time to prep yourself ahead of time, it can either be drastic or can be a breeze, your choice. But here I’ll help you get ready by outlining a few suggestions to make your trip easier.
Plan and know your passports and visa
Know how long you can actually stay in the country legally. The allowable stay in Bali as a tourist is 30 days – but if you want to stay longer than that you can, just by paying the social visa or doing the visa run, depending on your preference. A visa run is where you exit the country and go back again. Some people take this as an opportunity to tick off another country in their list but for some they don’t mind paying the extra dollars to stay longer.
Online check-in 24 hours before your flight.
This will save you from the mini heart attacks rushing to the airport and waiting in those long ass lines. Instead, you’ll have more time to navigate from dropping off your luggage/carry on, get to know your boarding pass go through inspection and immigration, and lastly, wait by your gate until boarding.
Check the weather of the country you’re going to - beforehand.
Whether your travel dates are flexible or not, its always a good idea to check out the weather of the destination you’ll be visiting. This will help you know what you should bring for your trip.
Pack as lightly as you can.
This is coming from a person who used to always over pack. Trust me you’ll survive with just one luggage or carry on. What’s the secret? Mix and match + do laundry. In every country, there’s always a way to get your laundry done and will cost you less than paying for that extra kilogram of clothes to fit in your luggage.
HELPFUL ITEMS TO PACK
I’m sure you already know the basic essential items to pack but here the ones that came in handy for my trip that I wasn’t expecting would really be helpful.
Fanny pack/bum bag – I can’t mention how many people I’ve met during my travels who have gotten their phones or wallets stolen and the pattern I’ve noticed is that their valuables were hanging loose, and by loose I mean in their sling bags or in their pockets. Straight up, I will tell you in this day and age, that is no longer enough. You need a bag that can get as close to your body as possible, and this bag just does the trick.
Portable wifi– This unit saved my ass in terms of navigating from rice fields to dead ends and more importantly meeting deadlines for work. Which means I got to work in remote places and on the go - Definitely convenient to have when traveling. Plus, your friends will find you reliable!
Here’s a discount coupon LEXIETRAVELS to get 10% off on portable wifi for your upcoming trip, trust me it will come in handy #TravelWithBigSky#BigSkyNation
Earphones –Whether you’re staying in a hostel or in your own villa, a pair of earphones comes in super clutch. Whether you’re binging a series on Netflix or with Facetiming friends and family, you can listen carefree without disturbing others. Also, I found it very helpful wearing one while I’m on the scooter, helpful in terms of calming me down with all the traffic and chaos outside – plus your jam just really puts you in a good mood to match the scenic view, making the moment even more magical.
Google translate app -If you are traveling to a different country where you don’t speak the language, download the Google Translate app (Android or iPhone) on your phone. You can download the languages offline and even have an audio feature where you can say something into the app and it will translate it for you.
Google maps app – Same as Google translate app, better come prepared and download it offline. It makes navigating around way way way easier and less realiable with wifi or data.
Photo copy of your credit cards and passport –Better to be safe than sorry! In any case you have a bit of bad luck in your way, and your wallet or purse is stolen while traveling, having a photocopy (better hard copy) with you, it will help you speed up the process of getting those valuable replaced.
RESEARCH, RESEARCH AND RESEARCH!
Research and understand the destination you’re going to; it always pays to come prepared, and it’s better to be overprepared than be underprepared. I know this might be a no brainer but never underestimate the power of knowledge. Know the dos and don’ts.
Have a tentative itinerary.
For short travels I highly suggest you sort out an itinerary but if it’s a long haul then having a blue print kind of plan will work out perfectly fine. Why? Because you would want to leave for exploration and detours. But just listing some of the places you would want to see during your trip would be great as your guide.
Be prepared and know where you’re going.
Take the time to familiarize yourself more or less what your getting yourself into such as these following:
Know the villa/ hostel you’re staying in, where the location is, and how far it is from the main city or beach. I suggest you read reviews, but also have an open mind when reading. Remember, we all have our own preferences when traveling so have your own list of standards and see what fits your shoes.
Have currency on you before you arrive or pull some out at a currency counter or nearest ATM to your hostel. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to be empty handed or relying too much on your debit/credit card.
Have a sketch more or less of your budget and your finances.
First things first, know how much you can spend and how budget friendly your destination is cos we all know that money doesn’t grow on trees. The worst thing you wouldn’t want to happen is be stuck in a foreign country and be calling your family for money.
Here’s how I budget my money, I consider it as a godsend. Total the money you’re bringing with you and divide it to the total days you are staying and whatever amount comes out then that should be your everyday budget.
YOU'LL REALIZE WHAT ACTUALLY MATTERS MOST.
In this digital and fast paced world we live in, its normal to get caught up. But what’s important is you bounce back from it as a better person. Remember, better not bitter. Nothing puts your problems into perspective more than traveling abroad. It’s when you get out of that box you’ve been stuck in and realize the world is so much bigger than you think.
It’s where you find yourself realizing that some things are not worth the effort. Waiting a few extra minutes for your food at your local café, or having a flat tire from your scooter and starting your day with a bit of a delay is just part of life’s adventure. Even the drama you had with your best friend, boyfriend, mama or even that Uber driver before you boarded the plane feels so irrelevant now.
The truth is, your heart-soul-mind have now been opened to all the possible opportunities out there. You meet people making the most of every situation and how they over come it their own little ways and living their lives differently than your own. You realize that you may be just one person on this planet but you have the awesome ability to inspire others in countless ways.
GUARANTEED, YOU'LL GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Saying absolutely “yes” to almost every adventure when you’re traveling abroad for the first time is a must. But at the same time, if you're not totally comfortable or have a gut feeling that something might go wrong, then follow your intuition in this case cos there’s definitely a reason for that feeling.
If you have the chance to tick off something in your bucket list, I hope you do, cos you never know when, or if you will have that opportunity again.
Remember, Getting out of your comfort zone is just another part of the adventure. You'll go hop on your scooter and find yourself driving for about an hour and half to Uluwatu and be in the busiest and life threatening freeways that you thought you would never overcome, getting up close and personal with the feisty monkeys in Ubud. It doesn't necessarily mean that it has to come with an adrenaline rush but just enough to say that you lived up to it instead of just hearing about it for the rest of your life.
YOU'LL COME OUT INSPIRED EACH TIME
Let’s just say when you travel, inspiration is everywhere and I mean everywhere. From the second you hop on the plane, you’ll already catch yourself daydreaming about what’s coming your way and the sunsets you’ll be witnessing before your eyes. Experiencing all this first-hand will truly put your soul in awe, ‘nuff said.
Simply seeing surfers giving their all to catch a wave for that few seconds of climax on the beautiful waves crashing on Balangan beach, will make you feel so alive. Especially if you’re suffering from a rough start to adulting lately like me. The first time you travel alone will be a great way to connect with others and discover yourself.
Maybe your uncertain with a lot of things in your life at the moment, either figuring out what you’re truly passionate about, or sorting out the life you want to be in. Traveling can be an amazing way to help you figure out those answers, and you’ll likely be overwhelmed by the discoveries you make about yourself and the people around you. You’ll start believing in kindness from strangers and the goodness in their hearts that you thought was extinct.
And whatever’s next, you’ll be ready for it.
WANDERLUST WILL CONSUME YOU
Traveling has a funny way of becoming ironic. Its like flirting with life and saying “I would love to stay and love you but I have to go, this is only one stop on my journey.” It’sboth a blessing and heart ache. It’s the constant need to follow your feet and see the world and what it has to offer but at the same time having to say good bye to the people you’re starting to get invested with. It’s a fleeting feeling that you’ll always have no matter how often you’re in transit. The first time you travel alone, you'll be stoked to breathe the air of new places, see the cities and coastlines you've daydreamed about - the hours you’ve spent scrolling endlessly through Pinterest and pinning it in your board.
But the beauty is indescribable when those images are taken off the screen and placed right in front your eyes. Every place and attraction gives you an adrenaline rush and an urge to keep chasing that feeling until your bank account is nearly empty. Despite what you know about yourself, the first time you travel abroad most likely won’t be your last.
Ready to head out on your first international trip? Remember to have fun, enjoy each experience for what it is, and realize everything won’t be like it is at home – that’s the whole point!
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